Vol 37 (2017): Special issue: Generations and Memory: Continuity and Change

“It starts to burn a little”: Intergenerational Transmission of Experiences of War within a Bosnian Family in Sweden

Ivana Maček
Stockholm University
Published March 31, 2017


This study builds on recent findings that emotions are crucial to the transmission of experiences of mass political violence between generations. In such work, the familial setting, as distinct from the individual psychological domain or collective sociocultural contexts, has been receiving increasing scholarly attention. Drawing on a larger project on the families formed by Bosnians who moved to Sweden during the 1990s war, this article develops a new method to analyze the interfamilial dynamics of communicating meanings. This method combines analysis of the emotions with which participants characterize certain facts – whether in semi-structured interviews or in children’s drawings – with the dynamic reflexivity common to both participant observation and psychotherapy. The analysis demonstrates how certain facts and feelings may be transmitted unchanged, while others become transformed or are lost in the process of intergenerational transmission.